Whittaker lost the title to Israel Adesanya (20-0) at UFC 243 in 2019. However, outside of that fight against Adesanya, Whittaker has been perfect in the middleweight division. There’s been nobody who’s been able to defeat him.
Recently, it was announced that the UFC is having Adesanya move up to face Jan Blachowicz (27-8) at UFC 259. Adesanya will be attempting to become a two-division champion by capturing the light heavyweight championship.
The fighter that’s left in limbo in this situation is Robert Whittaker. There is nobody in the middleweight division that is more deserving of a shot at Adesanya than Whittaker. However, the promotion doesn’t believe that he’s ready for a shot at the title.
After UFC 254, Dana White said that Whittaker would be next for Adesanya. The promotion wanted to turn the fight around quick, but with a baby on the way, Whittaker wanted to spend the holidays with his family. That’s when the promotion changed their tune.
Should Whittaker be upset with the UFC?
Dana White said recently that Whittaker needs to fight someone else before he gets his next UFC title shot. In my opinion, this should be incredibly frustrating for the former middleweight champion.
Whittaker’s only loss at middleweight was to Adesanya. Outside of that, he’s been unbeaten since 2014. Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) were both guaranteed title shots if they beat Whittaker in 2020.
However, Whittaker beat both of those contenders. It’s puzzling that the logic from the promotion is that Whittaker needs another win, however, I know that they’ll say it’s because he turned down their timeline for the middleweight title shot.
Yet, Jan Blachowicz had the same issue as Whittaker. Blachowicz just had a baby with his wife before resuming training for their fight in March. I have a strong feeling that Whittaker could have made that timeline work.
Ultimately, I believe the UFC and Adesanya were only interested in the Whittaker fight if it was able to happen quickly. The plan has been for them to move Adesanya up to light heavyweight to further his star power.
However, it’s not fair to the former champion. People have had title shots for much less and champions who have lost have gotten immediate title shots with less of a championship resume. I absolutely believe that Whittaker should be frustrated.